How to Grow Ornamental Chili Pepper Plants

Ornamental chili peppers

Ornamental chili pepper plants are a stunning addition to any garden, providing both visual appeal and edible fruit. These attractive plants come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and sizes, making them the perfect choice for adding a touch of spice and color to your landscape.

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In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the process of growing ornamental chili pepper plants, including selecting the right variety, proper planting techniques, and ongoing care to ensure a beautiful and bountiful harvest.

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Ornamental Chili Pepper Variety

There are countless ornamental chili pepper varieties available. To find the perfect fit for your garden, consider factors such as color and size. Check out our list of 8 ornamental chili pepper varieties below.

8 Ornamental Chili Pepper Varieties

  1. Black Pearl: This unique and striking chili pepper variety features dark purple-black leaves and shiny, round fruits that start black and ripen to a bright red. Compact and bushy, Black Pearl plants make a stunning addition to borders, containers, or as a focal point in the garden.

  2. Bolivian Rainbow: This eye-catching variety boasts small, multicolored fruits that ripen from purple to yellow, orange, and finally red, creating a vibrant rainbow effect on the plant. The foliage is a mix of green and purple, adding to the plant's overall visual appeal.

  3. Calico: The Calico chili pepper is known for its striking, variegated foliage in shades of green, purple, and cream. Its small, upright peppers change from purple to red as they ripen. Calico plants are compact and ideal for containers or as a colorful addition to a garden bed.

  4. Chilly Chili: With its mild heat level and attractive appearance, Chilly Chili is a popular choice for ornamental gardens. The elongated fruits transition from yellow to orange and finally red, providing a beautiful, multi-hued display. These plants are well-suited for container gardening or as an edging plant in a garden bed.

  5. Explosive Ember: This ornamental chili pepper variety features dark purple foliage and purple flowers, followed by small, cone-shaped fruits that ripen from purple to bright red. The contrasting colors make Explosive Ember an attractive choice for gardeners looking to add a dramatic touch to their outdoor space.

  6. Filius Blue: The Filius Blue chili pepper plant is prized for its small, round, blue fruits that ripen to red over time. The blue-gray foliage and purple flowers add to the plant's visual appeal. This compact variety is ideal for container gardening or as a unique accent in the garden.

  7. NuMex Twilight: Also known as the "Christmas pepper," NuMex Twilight is a stunning ornamental chili pepper variety featuring small, conical fruits that change from purple to yellow, orange, and finally red as they mature. The compact growth habit makes this variety ideal for container gardens or as an attractive border plant.

  8. Sangria: The Sangria chili pepper variety is known for its long, slender fruits that grow upright in clusters. The fruits start as a deep purple and ripen through shades of orange to a bright red. The dark green foliage provides an excellent backdrop for the vibrant fruit display. Sangria is an excellent choice for adding a splash of color to any garden setting.

Planting Your Ornamental Chili Peppers

Starting from Seeds

  1. Seed preparation: Some gardeners recommend soaking pepper seeds before planting to speed up germination. To do this, soak the seeds in warm water for 2-4 hours.
  2. Seed planting: Choose a high-quality seed starting mix and fill your chili pepper planting pots or grow bags. Plant the seeds about 1/4 inch deep and cover with the seed starting mix. Keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
  3. Germination: Place the pots in a warm location with temperatures between 70-85°F (21-29°C) to ensure optimal germination. The optimal temperature for growing chilies varies by variety, so be sure to check the specific requirements for your chosen type. Germination can take anywhere from 7-21 days depending on the variety and conditions.
  4. Seedling care: Once your seedlings have emerged, move them to a well-lit area or provide supplemental lighting using grow lights. Make sure they receive at least 14-16 hours of light per day.

Transplanting Seedlings

After your seedlings have developed a few sets of true leaves and nighttime temperatures consistently stay above 55°F (13°C), it's time to transplant them to their final location, whether it be in the ground, a container, or a greenhouse.

  1. Preparing the soil: Prepare your garden soil by tilling and amending it with organic matter such as compost or aged manure. Chili plants prefer well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5. Consider getting your soil tested to ensure it meets the nutritional requirements of chili plants.
  2. Hardening off: Gradually acclimate your seedlings to outdoor conditions by placing them outside for a few hours each day, increasing the duration over a week or two. This process called hardening off, helps prevent transplant shock.

  3. Planting: Space your seedlings 18-24 inches (45-60 cm) apart in rows, or follow the recommended spacing for your specific chili pepper variety. When planting in containers, choose pots that are large enough to accommodate your chili plant's mature size. Bury the seedlings up to their first set of true leaves to encourage a strong root system.

  4. Watering: Water the transplants thoroughly and then provide consistent moisture throughout the growing season. Avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot and other issues.

Ongoing Care for Your Ornamental Chili Peppers


Fertilize your chili plants with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer or an organic chili pepper fertilizer according to the package instructions. Over-fertilization can cause excessive foliage growth and reduced fruit production, so be cautious not to overdo it.

Pruning and Support

Pruning chili plants can help increase air circulation, promote bushier growth, and improve fruit production. Additionally, providing support with stakes or cages may be necessary for some chili plants to prevent them from toppling over under the weight of their fruit.

Pest and Disease Management

Monitor your chili plants for signs of pests or disease. Employ preventive measures and consider introducing beneficial insects and microbes to help maintain a healthy garden ecosystem. If you do encounter problems, troubleshoot common chili plant issues and treat them accordingly.

Harvesting and Using Your Ornamental Chili Peppers

Once your chili peppers have reached their mature color and size, they are ready to harvest. Use sharp gardening shears or pruners to cut the peppers from the plant, leaving a small portion of the stem attached.

There are several ways to preserve your chili peppers after harvest, including [drying and storing them]( or turning them into homemade chili pepper powder.

If you're interested in saving seeds for future planting, learn how to save seeds from your chili pepper plants and the best seed saving and storage tips.

In addition to their culinary uses, ornamental chili peppers can be integrated into your home garden landscape in various creative ways. Consider incorporating them into a border or container arrangement, or mix them with companion plants to enhance your garden's overall health and productivity.

Overwintering Chili Pepper Plants

Some chili varieties can be overwintered for continuous harvests, especially in milder climates. Learn how to keep your chili plants over winter and explore tips for growing perennial chili pepper plants to enjoy their beauty and flavor year-round.

In Conclusion

Growing ornamental chili pepper plants can be a rewarding and enjoyable endeavor for both novice and experienced gardeners.

By selecting the right variety, providing proper care, and following the recommended planting and maintenance guidelines, you can create a stunning and productive display in your garden.

Don't forget to explore the wealth of resources available on to help you on your chili-growing journey. Happy gardening!

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